The Pittsburgh Steelers have a slight chance of making the playoffs this year, but they are going to need a lot of help from other teams in the AFC in these final two weeks.
This isn’t going to be easy. Some might call it downright impossible, but the fact of the matter is that there is still a chance for the Pittsburgh Steelers to make the playoffs… Just not a very good one.
According to the formula from FiveThirtyEight, Mike Tomlin’s team currently has a 3 percent chance of making the post-season this year. This obviously makes them a longshot to make the tournament, but their odds could rise significantly following January first.
Obviously, that will depend on the outcome of several other games, and the Steelers can’t even remotely control their own destiny at this point. So what must happen for Pittsburgh to make the playoffs this year? Here’s every game that needs to go their way over the next two weeks:
Week 17: Steelers win, Dolphins lose, Jets lose
Seems simple enough, right? Tomlin’s team needs to take care of business in primetime on Sunday Night Football against the Ravens, but before this game even kicks off, we will know whether or not Pittsburgh has been eliminated.
At 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time, the 8-7 Miami Dolphins will square off against the Patriots. New England is favored in this contest, and it’s a good thing, as Steelers fans will need them to pull through in the early slate. A Miami win would vault them to 9-7 and instantly eliminate Pittsburgh from the playoffs, as they would hold the tiebreaker over the Steelers if they both happened to finish 9-8.
The other thing that must happen this week to keep the Steelers alive is the NY Jets must lose to the Seahawks during the late afternoon slate on New Year’s day. New York is favored on the road, but their shaky QB situation hardly makes them a lock to win.
Week 18: Steelers win, Dolphins lose, Patriots lose
Assuming all of these things go their way, the Steelers will be forced to rely on some outside help during the final week of the season. Obviously, Pittsburgh will be required to top the Browns at home to close out the season. However, they will also count on losses from the Dolphins and Patriots.
Miami plays the Jets next week for an AFC East matchup to close the season, and we are still alive, Steelers fans will be pulling hard for New York. Additionally, after needing the Patriots to win this week against the Dolphins, we must turn around and root for them to lose against Buffalo — something that seems likely to happen in the season finale.
One bizarre scenario for Steelers to get into the playoffs
Realistically, things need to work out exactly as listed above in order for the Pittsburgh Steelers to enter the playoffs this year. However, there is one bizarre scenario that could technically get them in.
Let’s say that Pittsburgh wins this week and the Dolphins lose, but the Jets win. Tomlin’s team wouldn’t officially be eliminated just yet. However, their chances of making the playoffs would plummet down to under 0.1 percent, via FiveThirtyEight.
If this were to be the case, what would have to happen in Week 18 is that the Steelers must beat the Browns, the Patriots must lose to the Bills, and the Dolphins and Jets game must end in a tie. This scenario would be almost impossible to play out exactly this way.
There’s a reason the Pittsburgh Steelers have just a 3 percent chance of making the playoffs this year. They need so many chips to fall in their favor in the final two weeks. If it doesn’t work out exactly like this they will be eliminated. This could happen as early as the closure of the 1:00 p.m. slate this Sunday.